Advocacy and the Consultant

by Scott Cattran

There are a number of issues facing our water and environmental clients. The recently proposed fiscal year 2013 budget included cuts of approximately $105 million from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) discretionary funding. According to the Bloomberg article, this reduction is “achieved through cuts to state wastewater treatment and drinking funds” and is just one example of the challenges our clients face.

In a recent CE News article, the AWWA issued a study that finds “the cost of repairing and expanding U.S. drinking water infrastructure will top $1 trillion in the next 25 years.” The study suggests this cost will be met primarily through higher water bills and local fees. But where will the rest come from? With shrinking budgets, our clients can’t possibly accomplish the work required to maintain our nation’s deteriorating infrastructure.

As consultants, what can we do to help combat these issues and support our clients? On behalf of Woolpert, I am actively involved in committees that promote several advocacy initiatives in Congress to support our clients, including private activity bonds specifically for water and wastewater, the Water Infrastructure Finance Innovations Authority (WIFIA) and a water trust fund to name a few. In the coming months, I will address these advocacy initiatives individually and explain in detail how they are critical to helping our clients overcome the many challenges they face. Check back for the next update and feel free to share your thoughts or your efforts to support initiatives such as these in the comments.